The Fundamentals of Control

Hello PokéBeach readers! I’m Sander Wojcik, a new writer for the site! There wouldn’t be any better way for me to introduce myself besides starting off with an article on a subject matter that’s very close to my heart. Understanding the basics is the path to mastering any craft in life, so looking back at the fundamentals of what you’re doing is an essential practice for beginners and experts alike. Today, the fundamental question at hand is: how does a control deck work?

Most decks in the Pokémon TCG follow the logic that the anime show has prescribed us: trainers battle, KO each other’s Pokémon (represented in the card game by Prize cards) until a winner is decided. In the TCG, this translates to beatdown decks: outperforming your opponent at taking six Prizes. The intricacies to this are without end, and worthwile to discuss and examine some other time. There is a different approach to the game however, a strategy that diverges from the intended goal. Instead of fullfulling the win condition of taking six Prizes in a timely fasion, it aims to control the board and, by extension, the game; all to disrupt the opponent from reaching their win condition. Different opposing decks deploy different routes to their win condition, so this control strategy will need to be able to adapt to unhinge a variety of tactics. Control decks try to stop their opponent’s gameplan and eliminate their win condition. Since the game will naturally turn into a long game where both sides can’t meet a quick win condition, some kind of value engine is leveraged to make sure this long game benefits the side that initiated it. This approach is a contrast to what beatdown decks do. As such, control decks also operate on a different set of metrics. These metrics will be the center point of this article. And I will be using examples to illustrate them in motion.

Discussing these central points to control is meant to improve the understanding of this archetype for newer players. This is also a structured breakdown for people who already have an intuitive understanding, and even for people with experience with the archtype. These points can provide a guideline to fall back on when looking for direction. I review these whenever I’m faced with problems or dissatisfied with how decks play. I reconsider my knowledge of fundamentals and try to pinpoint a cause. Even without having an immediate interest in mastering this archtype yourself, knowing your enemy is key to tackle any strategy. Let’s get into what I consider the pillars of control, the four cornerstones each control deck is made out of.

Spot Removal / Mass Removal

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